A Misunderstanding…

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Clarifying that the intent was never to disrespect OHA and its beneficiaries by creating 99-year leases of ceded lands.

Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

Ke Aloha Nō! Aloha!

As the Legislature was rushing to make last minute changes given the short timeframes for this Covid-19 legislative session, an amendment of section 6 of Senate Bill 2940 SD1 HD2 was passed, with the thought that it would apply to the Stadium Authority.

This bill was crucial to the progress of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District, and apparently suffered an 11th-hour death at the State Legislature, which is sure to delay the project for at least a year and drive up already escalating costs. If it weren’t for State Senator Kai Kahele from Hilo, SB 2940, SD2, HD2, would have passed with an egregious error.

But Senator Kahele objected because a snag in the wording of the bill would have allowed the State to grant 99-year leases on the 98-acre Hālawa footprint that the current stadium sits on and inadvertently would have also opened up other areas under the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority’s (HCDA) jurisdiction to expanded leases.

State Senator Glenn Wakai, Chairman of the House Economic Development, Energy and Tourism Committee termed it “a fumble on the one yard line” and Curt Otaguro, State Comptroller and head of the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), called it a “monumental error.”

In a letter to key lawmakers, Otaguro said “I apologize for this monumental error and for the confusion and inconvenience caused to the Senate membership at this late stage.”

I am attaching the email he sent to Senate and House leadership later that day regarding SB 2940 SD2, HD2, which supports the development of a new stadium at Hālawa, clarifying the mistake.

Long story short, I understand there may be a misunderstanding that the State was trying to pull a “quick one” by giving HCDA power to grant longer leases which would include ceded lands. Otaguro said this is not true… as the State would never want to impact or change any laws impacting other agencies behind their back.

The honest fact is DAGS made the careless error because he was a rookie at writing and amending bills, and they should have paid closer attention to understanding the legislation that was being proposed. He went even further to say that he would be more than happy to speak with anyone at OHA to set the story straight. He did not want to jeopardize the opportunity to strengthen the state’s relationship with OHA.

From: Otaguro, Curt

“Attached is a request from DAGS asking for your consideration to pass SB 2940 on Friday. Thanks to Senator Kahele, he pointed out an error in Section 6 (Section 206E-14) that proposed changes to the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) to issue leases from a maximum term of 65 years to 99 years. It was never our intent to affect HCDA’s authority and apologize for submitting our amendments in error. I hope you will trust us to make the appropriate corrections to this bill at the next legislative session.

“So many have worked on this initiative over the past 10 years and have made great progress to date. The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District will redefine Halawa and Honolulu and will give our constituents a new experience to participate in various entertainment events and enjoy the benefits of what this expanded district can provide. I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the attached. Thank you again for your consideration.”

“Aloha, Curt”

Me ke Aloha Pumehana, Mālama Pono,
A Hui Hou, Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa